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Conference Papers Year : 2018

Computer algorithms prefer headless women


Advertising algorithms power the online digital economy. However, it is unclear whether they may end up distorting the kind of information people are exposed to. To explore this we ran a randomized online ad campaign on Snapchat on behalf of a French computer science school that explored how the ad algorithm allocated pictorial content representing gender. Our results show that pictures depicting a complete male torso was shown more to teens, while the female picture that was displayed most by the algorithm depicted the woman as not having a head. We present suggestive evidence that these algorithms are driven by preferences in large population centers in Paris as it appears the algorithm determines which images are the most "engaging" on the first day for the places with the largest numbers of users and replicates this pattern going forward elsewhere.


Gender studies
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Dates and versions

hal-02333913 , version 1 (25-10-2019)


  • HAL Id : hal-02333913 , version 1


Grazia Cecere, Clara Jean, Matthieu Manant, Catherine Tucker. Computer algorithms prefer headless women. 2018 MIT CODE : Conference on Digital Experimentation, Oct 2018, Boston, United States. ⟨hal-02333913⟩
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